Thursday, September 04, 2008

Virtual genealogy speakers at local societies


A proposal for bringing down the cost of high-quality speakers for local genealogy society meetings and seminars.

Ol' Myrt here came to Philly early to attend the APG (Association of Professional Genealogists) Professional Management Conference, a pre-FGS Conference option for genealogy professionals. My goals over the next few years include expanding the scope of DearMYRTLE and I have gleaned ideas by taking classes and networking with other professional genealogists.

As the APG website explains, there are many categories of professional genealogists (from researchers to event planners.) In the past Ol' Myrt has confined her activities to writing, lecturing and podcasting.

On Tuesday evening this past week, the APG Roundtable discussion proved enlightening. We heard initially from panelists who have experience as television consultants, writers, and editors. They shared insights about working with online scanned image sites (typically writing descriptive articles about record groups), book publishing, magazine production, family organizations as the paid genealogist, and local community colleges as instructor.

In the true spirit of roundtable discussions, the 90-100 attendees were not shy about posing questions and brainstorming.

One topic that interests Ol' Myrt is the idea of 'virtual' seminar instructing, using an interface such as This is going to be the NEW TREND in genealogy USING TECHNOLOGY -- to overcome the problems and high-costs associated with 'flying in' nationally-ranked speakers to appear at your local genealogy society's monthly meeting or annual fund-raising conference.

In fact this past summer Ol' Myrt submitted an article on the subject of appearing as a 'virtual speaker' which will appear in the December 2008 APGQ (Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly). My suggestion is that the distant genealogy society will make more money for their local library's book fund if they aren't having to shell out big bucks to fly speakers in and put them up in a hotel for 2-3 nights.

At the same time, from a speaker's point of view, it sure would be a lot less wear and tear to 'appear' via computer and telephone -- also saving the hassle of lost luggage and down-time being away from one's research desk. No jet lag converts to higher productivity.

I am planning just this sort of work to support a new genealogy group that is forming in the Moultrie, Georgia area. And I can do it from the comfort of my own home - PJs, fuzzy slippers and all. There is ample opportunity for questions & answers using the phone, and I can show the group my PowerPoint and take them on tours of websites using my computer. With, what is on my computer monitor appears on the screen in that distant meeting room.

Set up is as easy as:
  • 15-minute practice session a day or two beforehand
  • large meeting room with internet access
  • computer projector
  • computer
  • projection screen
  • microphone
  • access to a telephone with speaker phone (in the absence of a more sophisticaed tie-in between Ol' Myrt's phone and the meeting hall's telephone system)
  • Myrt supplies an acess code for

Ol' Myrt's current speaker's fees are:

In-person appearance

  • $110+ travel - 1 hour, single meeting topic where there is no cover charge to attendees.
  • $400+ travel - all-day seminar, 4 presentations, where attendees are charged a fee.

Virtual appearance

  • $75 - 1 hour, single meeting topic where there is no cover charge to attendees.
  • $360 - all-day seminar, 4 presentations, where attendees are charged a fee.

If you'd like Ol' Myrt to visit your local genealogy society 'virtually' drop me a line. This is a cost-effective way to get together and talk about our favorite topic - genealogy.

I think once this idea catches on, most genealogy speakers will offer this option. After all, there once was a time when email and podcasting sounded 'far out'.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.

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